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A glorious revival of Ferrari's front-mounted V12 sports car design.
Legendary V12 engine design, luxurious interior, stunning looks.
Heavy for a performance car, a 360 Modena offers comparable performance for two-thirds the price.
The 550 Maranello becomes the 575M Maranello by way of an increase in engine displacement (from 5.5 liters to 5.75 -- hence the new nomenclature). A variety of updates have been made, including the availability of an F1-style sequential manual transmission.
Introduced to the U.S. market in 1997, the 550 Maranello was an instant hit with both the Ferrari faithful and the general American public, due in no small part to its striking appearance. As a replacement for the outgoing 512M (itself an evolution of the '80s icon, mid-engine Testarossa model), the 550 signaled a return to Ferrari's legendary V12/front-engine/two-seat design philosophy that had endeared earlier models, such as the 365 Daytona and 275 GT, to fans of the prancing horse.
With the 550 Maranello, Ferrari had certain goals. Specifically, the company wanted a car that could meet the driving needs of its most demanding customers while simultaneously providing a level of comfort and convenience previously unavailable in a Ferrari.
Named after the town from which all Ferraris originate, the Maranello combines high-tech luxury features with a powerful V12 engine to create the ultimate Gran Turismo automobile. This year, the slight name change signifies more power. With the V12 boosted via an increase of 0.25 liters of capacity, horsepower now peaks at 515, an increase of 30 ponies over last year's 5.5-liter unit. A Bosch Motronic fuel injection system feeds into four-valves-per-cylinder heads, while other engine components, like titanium connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons, contribute to light weight and durability. Performance claims include a 12.25-second quarter-mile and a top speed of 202 mph.
Also new is the availability of the F1-style six-speed gearbox. Previously, this clutchless-manual style of transmission could only be had on the 360 Modena and Spyder. A normal six-speed manual with a clutch and the classic Ferrari gated shifter is the standard gearbox. Both transmissions are incorporated into the rear differential for improved weight distribution.
Riding on a high-tensile steel tube frame, the 575M sports such performance aids as speed-sensitive steering, adjustable suspension (with comfort and sport modes), Brembo four-piston brakes with four-channel ABS, stability control and new 19-inch wheels with Z-rated tires.
Subtle changes to the exterior, such as xenon headlights and revised air intakes mark the 575M. The cockpit was also revamped with new sport seats and an instrument cluster, the latter featuring a huge, center-mounted tachometer to keep tabs on the mighty 12.
But, as stated earlier, performance is only part of the 575M equation. The Maranello pampers with eight-way (five of which are even power!) adjustable seats, a tilting/telescoping steering wheel, bright analog gauge displays and automatic climate control with sun radiation sensors for improved accuracy. Behind the seats is a large shelf with room for golf bags and even leather straps to keep them from scuffing the interior panels during high-G turns. A trunk-mounted CD changer is standard, as are automatically sealing windows for an airtight cabin at triple-digit speeds.
Yes, the 575M Maranello offers performance to impress the yacht club guys and convenience to keep the better half happy. But if the performance aspects of a Ferrari interest you more than luxury accoutrements, keep in mind that a 360 Modena stickers for about one third less than the Maranello while offering comparable performance.
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